This past weekend (July 11, 2015) saw the first of a “No Handicap” tournament held at the Shooters Snooker and Sports Club in North York. There has been an ongoing request for this format for some time now and those who were asking for this format were finally rewarded with a 10 Ball No Handicap event. This tournament is another of the ‘one-off’ events hosted by Shooters and Peter Chin during the summer months for those who want to keep their skills sharp.
Despite the large number of activities in Toronto during the summer months, a very good turnout of 36 players were ready to test their skills when the tournament began. A surprisingly wide range of skills were on display from professionals to the lower handicap amateur category. Very gratifying was the large number of lower handicap amateurs who were ready to exhibit their skills against the professionals. Disappointing was the relatively low number of advanced amateurs and semi-pro’s not in attendance. The staggered entry fees and ability to pre-qualify for the lower ranked players were clearly factors in the disproportionately high attendance of these lower ranked players. And whether or not most realized it, the 10 Ball format and ‘Winner Breaks’ rule made the tournament especially challenging for the amateurs. Entry fees ranged from a low of $30 for the ‘amateur’ to a high of $200 for the professionals. A total of $2500 in prize money was at stake.
While handicapped tournaments have become a fact of life for tournaments in Southern Ontario, the “No Handicap” format never fails to generate discussion and differing opinions. There is no disputing the fact that players likely improve more quickly when playing a professional even up, but the other side of the argument asserts that there should be tournaments for those competitive recreational players who work full time, have other priorities and are in the true sense of the word – Amateur – and always will be amateurs. There is room for both tournament formats. The entry fee “price points” for this past weekend’s tournament struck an especially good balance for the amateurs and the professionals and bodes well for future “No Handicap” tournaments.
On the tables, tournament play was excellent by both the amateurs and professionals. Several upsets occurred but at the end of the day it was the 3 favoured professionals and 2 semi pros who took 5 of the top 6 places. Because of the very late hour on Saturday, Erik Hjorleifson, Andy Aupin and Mario Morra made an arrangement to split the prize money for the win, place and show positions.
At the outset of the tournament it was disappointing to see many of those who asked for this format not in attendance for a variety of reasons. In retrospect, however, the tournament was a great success with the high turnout of lower ranked amateurs . For future “No Handicap” events, ideally we will see more of the mid range players as well as more semi-pro’s and especially those who requested this format.
Thank you to all the participants for a great day of pool. As noted previously, there are more innovative tournament formats on the horizon at Shooters for the balance of the summer months. Tournament qualifiers are also being run for each of these events. Check the Shooters Snookerclub Facebook page and www.thepoolscene.com for details and dates.